Keyword:

God told me what he wanted me to do and confirmed it

Retreating back down the path from a Jewish home on Belfast’s Antrim Road, missionary worker Valerie Shaw felt her heart sink. Again she had tried to break down barriers and sow seeds of the news of Jesus the Messiah and his coming. Again her efforts had been rejected.

Retreating back down the path from a Jewish home on Belfast’s Antrim Road, missionary worker Valerie Shaw felt her heart sink. Again she had tried to break down barriers and sow seeds of the news of Jesus the Messiah and his coming. Again her efforts had been rejected.

‘Lord, I told you I’d never make a missionary to the Jews,’ she said,

mentally making a commitment to write a letter of resignation to the Barbican Mission to the Jews (today known as Christian Witness to Israel) for whom she worked and, indeed, to God Himself. But having been a Christian since she was a teenager, Valerie Shaw wasn’t one to give up. And so she continued her work in an area of missionary service that is notoriously difficult – witnessing to Jewish people. It was a direction she had taken after God pointed her towards it a few years after she left Belfast Bible College. ‘I wasn’t very long saved when I knew I wanted to go into missionary work, I was in a church – the Free Presbyterian Church on the Ravenhill Road – that was very missionary minded,’ says Valerie, who is now 76 and attends Ballysillan Elim.

She recounts how her decision to become a Christian, at the age of 15, followed a dramatic experience with the Holy Spirit one night when she was at the cinema with a friend.

‘A talent contest was on and we wanted to see it as we knew one of the entrants. We were standing near the front and at the end of the film that was on, the hero – it was Kirk Douglas  – was shot. He was dying and he asked for a priest. Now I knew nothing about the work of the Holy Spirit or God speaking, but I could hear a voice say very clearly, not out loud, ‘If you were to die tonight, where would your soul be?’ I looked round for the exit, which was pretty far away, and I passed out with the horror of it. I recovered to find to find two rather small St John Ambulance people half carrying, half dragging me out. I was totally shaken.’

The following week Valerie and her friend met another friend who told them her story of becoming a Christian. It had an immense impact on them both.

‘I knew it was decision night, I had to make a definite decision one way or the other. So we both knelt down and asked Jesus into our hearts. It was just a simple commitment. Then we started attending the church.’

One night, a speaker in the church made an appeal for people to go into the mission field, should God call them.

‘I was willing to go the next day, but I wasn’t quite 16 and God had a lot to teach me,’ Valerie chuckles. It was two years later that I went to Belfast Bible College. I spent two years there and heard all sorts of missionary speakers. I couldn’t wait to go, and yet I left and didn’t know what God’s plan was – I just had to wait on him.’

Valerie says God finally unveiled that plan to her a while later, after she

came into contact with well-known Dutch Christian Corrie ten Boom who, together with her family, had been imprisoned during the Second World War for helping Jews to hide in their home during the Nazi Holocaust.

Describing her as ‘a lady who was very inspiring’, Valerie said it had been a thrill to meet her, and a short time later, ‘God began to speak about what His plan for me was.’

Witnessing to Jews hadn’t been in Valerie’s own life plan – ‘My idea was to go somewhere like India or South America’ – but she says she ‘knew with absolute conviction that this was what He wanted.’

She began her work with the Barbican Mission and although at times felt

disillusioned by an apparent lack of progress in seeing any Jews come to Christ, realised one day that she must keep going.

‘We didn’t have many breakthroughs – one or two in Dublin and Belfast, but I couldn’t say if there were any more. In those days it was hard. Gradually over the years there was a softening. I told God many a time I was giving up but I knew I couldn’t live with Him as a Christian and still be in argument with Him. He had told me that was what He wanted me to do and He confirmed it again and again. I knew that it was a case of – you can’t fight with God, He’s always right. I couldn’t walk with Him in fellowship and be in disobedience.’

Valerie knows that today, there are groups of Jewish believers across the world ‘and they are a force to be reckoned with.’ And she adds: ‘I believe I will meet some of the Jews in Heaven that I didn’t expect to meet.’

This article was written by Laura McMullan and was first published in the Belfast News Letter in May 2013.


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